The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4km hike that spans the length of Mount Tongariro. I considered hiking strenuous walking until we tackled this journey that took us about seven hours. Hiking is NO JOKE and a new favorite hobby of ours for all of the challenges and beauty.
It was about five miles to the base of Mount Ngauruhoe, which featured as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. From there we continued to hike along an icy ledge only to make the extremely windy alpine crossing before heading down the other side of the mountain.
Once we started down the other side of the mountain, complete with slippery lava sands, we were greeted by these astounding views. I alternated between terror thinking I was about to fall off the cliff and awe at the breathtaking views spread out below us.
We spent plenty of time admiring the mineral lakes before starting to pick our way down the mountain.
Before starting the remainder of the downhill section, we stopped to relax at another deep blue lake, appropriately named Blue Lake.
Every type of landscape was included in this 13 mile hike – barren desert, rock face, lava, frozen tundra, geothermal areas, breathtaking lakes, flood plains and rain forest all surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes and astounding views of the valley below. The sheer scale of everything in New Zealand is mind boggling. The snow and ice made this hike extra challenging, but that much more beautiful. We’d love to do this hike again and add on a trek up to the top of Mount Doom!